The Worst Airballed Free Throws In The History Of Civilization, Numbers 13 Through 8

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The airballed free throw is the most shameful, profound action of failure that exists in any sport. And yet, nobody has attempted to keep stats on them ... until now. Here are all the airballs from the stripe we found, complete with video evidence.

13. Jamaal Magloire, Toronto Raptors

Date: January 13th, 2012
Game situation: Down by three, 13.9 seconds remaining in 4th
Career free throw percentage: 64 (10.8 percent worse than 2011-12 league average)
Missed rim by (visual estimate): Six inches
Reaction from the booth: [14-second silence] "Airball with the first."
Immediate visual reaction:

Jamaalmagloire_medium

Other notes: This airball stands out from the others on this list, in that it actually happens with the game pretty much hanging in the balance. You can just hear the air being sucked out of the building. And I mean, it might have missed by even more than six inches, because despite its relatively low arc, the net doesn't even flinch.

By the way, there are now three members of the mid-1990s Kentucky Wildcats on this list. WELL DONE!

12. and
11. Larry Smith, Golden State Warriors

Date: April 8th, 1989
Game situation: Undetermined
Career free throw percentage: 53.1 (21.7 percent worse than league average)
First attempt missed rim by (visual estimate): Two inches
Second attempt missed rim by (visual estimate): Five inches
Immediate visual reaction:

Larrysmith_medium

Other notes: These are the two oldest airballed free throws I was able to find, and of course they both happened during the same trip during the line. I tried really hard to get Wilt Chamberlain on this list because I was sure he'd airballed like a dozen free throws at some point, but it seems like he always shot long instead of short.

Anyway, during the 1990-91 season, Larry Smith made 12 of 50 free throw attempts. That's 24 percent. If a baseball player only managed to a) make contact with a 90-mph pitch, and b) manage to hit it in a spot that let him get on base only 24 percent of the time, he would kind of suck. I bet most baseball players wish that they could get on base with a free throw.

10. Kwame Brown, Los Angeles Lakers

Date: December 22nd, 2006
Game situation: Undetermined
Career free throw percentage: 57.3 (17.5 percent worse than 2011-12 league average)
Missed rim by (visual estimate): Six inches
Reaction from the booth: "Kwame Brown! Are you kidding me? You're better than that, Kwame." [Editor's note: :| ]
Immediate visual reaction:

Kwamebrown_medium

Other notes: Kwame Brown's appearance is surely the least surprising to you, right? Not because he's famous for airballing free throws or whatever, but because Kwame Brown is on every single, "here is a list of bad basketball things," list on the Internet.

9. DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers (second appearance)

Date: November 11th, 2009
Game situation: Up by three, 10:58 remaining in 4th
Career free throw percentage: 42.5 (32.3 percent worse than 2011-12 league average)
Missed rim by (visual estimate): Judging from the location of the referee when he caught the ball off the bounce, around six inches
Call from the crowd: "OHHH SHIT!"
Immediate visual reaction:

Deandrejordan1_medium

Other notes: This is as good a time as any to cop to the dubiousness of my distance estimations. Thanks in part to the, "let's shoot this free throw from the camera at the opposite end of the court," trend that seems to be in vogue these days, some of these estimations could be far off the mark.

I wish basketball statisticians used something like PITCH f/x, a system used by baseball folks to track and record the trajectories of pitches. Then again, if slam dunks existed in baseball, they probably wouldn't have been bored enough to make PITCH f/x to begin with.

8. Ben Wallace, Cleveland Cavaliers (second appearance)

Date: November 19th, 2008
Game situation: Up by eight, 4:15 remaining in 2nd
Career free throw percentage: 41.5 (33.3 percent worse than league average)
Missed rim by (visual estimate): The camera angle makes it difficult to estimate, but given the high arc of the shot and the spot on the floor on which it landed, six inches sounds about right.
Call from the booth: "Whoa, he didn't catch any iron! He'll catch it from the crowd!"
Immediate visual reaction:

Benwallace_medium

Other notes: Have we reached LeBron James on this list yet? You tell me, because I'm writing a lot of these out of order. If we have, you understand why LeBron's offering of daps to Wallace is significant. They both belong to an exclusive fraternity of free-throw airballers. And of course, just after Ben Wallace left town in 2009, the Cavaliers acquired Shaquille O'Neal, who himself claims two spots on this list.

Do you think they're like the Masons? Like, if they step on a train and see a fellow free-throw airballer, they meet eyes and tip their caps in silent acknowledgment from across the passenger car? It would be really neat if they did.

Intro | Numbers 36 through 31 | Numbers 30 through 25 | Numbers 24 through 20
Numbers 19 through 14 | Numbers 13 through 8 | Numbers 7 through 1

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